Understanding what your customers are thinking before, during and after their interactions with your brand can completely change the way you do business.
Successful companies all over the world understand the value in learning more about their customers’ needs and interests – that’s because satisfying those needs and interests is a competitive differentiator and business imperative.
Among the many methods available to organizations for surveying their customers and assessing the results, analyzing voice of the customer (VoC) has proven to be one of the most effective.
VoC serves as a powerful tool for capturing the varied needs, desires and emotion of your customer base.
To learn how Voice of the Customer can be measured, download our white paper, Measuring Voice of the Customer: Data-Driven Strategies & Tools to Unlock Voice of the Customer Insights.
Read on to discover what makes the VoC business process and strategy vital to long term success and how it can be implemented within your own organization.
Why Voice of the Customer is Important
Without a clear understanding of customers’ most important needs, companies cannot reasonably decide on which direction their products and/or services should evolve.
The two points below should help convey the importance of obtaining accurate VoC information on a regular basis:
Informing development decisions
Developing a new product or service, even for a well-positioned brand in a profitable market, is a risky task. After all, there is never a guarantee that a brand-new product will go over well with its intended audience. This is where voice of the customer techniques prove their worth.
By incorporating survey cycles directly into your development process, each design decision your organization makes can be backed by customer needs. This allows your team to innovate with confidence, knowing additional features or entire reworkings have been vetted by the very people that keep your company in business.
In much the same way that products benefit from aggressive VoC approaches during each design and development phase, so too do client-facing services.
Surveying customers for suggestions to improve services they use regularly can yield highly actionable information.
How Voice of the Customer is Gathered
Voice of the customer can be obtained by many different means, including interviews, surveys, conversation analytics and more.
The common thread between each separate approach to obtaining VoC is that customers are asked to ‘voice’ their opinions on certain products, services and/or processes offered by either your company or your competitors. These opinions are analyzed and classified based on the needs each customer has expressed, then they are finally assessed and acted on to improve your organization’s standing with its customers.
Following are a few of the most common ways companies typically acquire valuable VoC data from their customers:
Focus groups and surveys
Focus groups and surveys alike can be considered a form of direct, solicited feedback as customers are completely aware of your company’s interest in their opinions when they participate in either of these.
The most important considerations companies should remember when using these kinds of VoC techniques are the most appropriate audience sample to work with and the ideal moment to do so. For instance, if your aim is to optimize a specific feature of your product or service, then triggering a survey just as a customer stops using it would likely be best.
Similarly, if you choose to assemble a focus group for selective testing, then you should take the time to determine which individuals best represent the people you plan to accommodate with the products, features or services you would ask them to test out.
Online data aggregation
Wherever customers discuss your brand, valuable insights can potentially be hiding in plain sight.
From real-time interactions with customers, to social media platforms, niche web forums and even public messaging apps, brand discussions are happening everywhere, generating actionable cues that companies can use to redefine their market identity.
This indirect, unsolicited feedback may be a bit more complex to capture, but it can make a major difference in development efforts and more.
Specialized tools leveraging sophisticated AI technology have surfaced in recent years to assist companies in acquiring insights from publicly retrievable information posted about their brand around the web, as well as analyze customer interactions that come through call centers, chat, SMS and other channels.
Tips to Better Leverage Voice of the Customer
The following tips can help you leverage VoC to its fullest potential:
Set relevant goals from the start
Plot out a course for your VoC process and decide on what it is you want to learn before you begin planning out actual questions or separating user groups.
Avoid asking the wrong people the wrong questions
Just as you should carefully create the right focus groups for your tests, you should also choose your questions wisely. Ensure customers are free to answer truthfully by phrasing questions correctly as well. This means avoiding leading questions that imply specific answers and giving customers space to surprise you.
Listen to customers in context
Customer feedback doesn’t just happen at one point in time during a single conversation. Imagine a customer starts on a self-service chat option and then moves to a call center agent. Analyze those interactions across channels for the most comprehensive VoC.
How does your company approach voice of the customer practices?